If there was any question about whether SNL was being too soft on Donald Trump’s xenophobic and nativist political campaign, those questions were quashed Saturday night in their “Racists for Trump” sketch, a fake advertisement that ran immediately after Jonah Hill’s opening monologue. The sketch features a group of everyday people (“Real Americans”) professing, in banal ways, their support for Trump. But as they talk about Trump’s authenticity and his status as an outsider, we learn that one is wearing a Nazi armband, another is ironing Klan robes, and still another is using his fireplace to burn books. It’s a brutal satire, one that uses visual framing and off-screen space in a clever way.
But while the “Racists for Trump” ad received by far the most attention, the cold open, which parodied New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s awkward Trump endorsement, perhaps more subtly associates Trump’s recent comments with both racist and fascist ideologies. I haven’t quite been sold on Darrell Hammond’s characterization of Trump, but during this sketch, he does capture Trump’s preening and posturing. More notably, the sketch features Trump bragging that “the media are saying they haven’t seen anything like this, not since Germany in the 1930s.” He goes on to brag that he won “racists, ugly racists, people who didn’t even know they were racists.” It’s a pretty blunt appraisal of Trump’s campaign messaging and one that shows they power of comedy to comment on politics in a clever, engaging way.